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Hundreds protest proposed budget cuts

January 22, 2009

Hundreds of business leaders, students, alumni and community members turned out to the Jan. 22 meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents to protest the Legislature’s proposed budget cuts to the university system – the largest audience in the board’s history.

During the meeting’s call to audience – a format for members of the public to address the board – prominent business, community and student leaders, as well as representatives from alumni, parents and faculty associations, voiced their strong concerns about the proposed cuts. They cited the devastating affects the cuts would have on local businesses, the state’s economy and the future of the Arizona.”

“There are watershed moments for states,” said Regent Fred DuVall. “For Arizona, the Salt River Project and Central Arizona Project – both critical public investments – were such turning points. Today, we face another – of equal import to these times – that will have equivalent impacts if we forgo the investments that enable forward progress.”

Several prominent local business leaders attended and attested to the vital role Arizona’s universities play in the state’s economy.

“The key to growth is technology, the key to technology is innovation, and the key to innovation is education,” said Taylor Lawrence, Raytheon’s president.

Sarah Smallhouse, president of Thomas R. Brown Foundations and co-chair of the Coalition for Solutions Through Higher Education, urged legislators to consider alternatives to the proposed cuts.

“The universities have planned for – and are prepared to take – cuts,” she said. “The proposal that has been advanced will cripple our state for decades to come. We simply have to be more creative.”

Added Tom Grogan, founder of Ventana Medical Systems: “The University of Arizona is part of the budget solution, not the problem.”

Grogan turned to the large crowd of students standing behind him and predicted, “More wealth (for our state) will come from the people standing here than will be found in the ground of Arizona.”

Students also turned out to the meeting by the hundreds.

At the podium, UA student body president Tommy Bruce sounded a strong alarm.

“We will not and cannot stand for this,” he said. “These cuts would mangle our universities until they would no longer be viable entities.”

Media Contact:
Andrea Smiley, 602-229-2543,